StatsCan: Nunavut puts fewer people behind bars than other jurisdictions

Nunavut in last place for jailing convicted offenders


Nunavut courts were less likely to sentence guilty offenders to jail in 2010-11 than any other Canadian province or territory, Statistics Canada said May 28 in two reports.

Only 22.6 per cent of adults found guilty in criminal cases are sentenced to custody in Nunavut, 10.8 percentage points lower than for all of Canada.

“In 2010/2011, 63 per cent of all guilty cases in Prince Edward Island resulted in a custodial sentence, more than double the lowest proportions found in Nunavut (23 per cent),” read the StatsCan document.

It’s the same in youth court too — seven per cent of youths are sentenced to custody, much less than the 16 per cent figure produced by the rest of Canada.

But Nunavut’s chief federal prosecutor, Barry Nordin, said the statistics aren’t something he’s worried about.

“As a prosecution agency, we’re not overly concerned where we are on the average of sentencing in Canada,” said Nordin.

“Assuming that the stats are valid, I don’t think that there’s any great surprise. There’s a small, isolated population here that is historically disadvantaged.”

“The court has to consider an appropriate sentence. We try very hard to make sure that all the criteria are considered,” Nordin said.

The statistics don’t take into account conditional cases, something that Nunavut uses often, he said.

“Nunavut makes good use of conditional sentences. It’s a sentencing option that is fairly regularly considered.”

Conditional sentences are frequently used in cases of alcohol-related crimes.

In adult court cases, Nunavut has almost seven per cent more people that are found guilty compared with the national median. When sentenced to jail-time, however, people in Nunavut serve an average of 20 days more than the national median of 30 days.

Nationally, about two-thirds of accused persons in Canada were found guilty. The statistics showed most of accused persons were between the ages of 18 and 24, and that impaired driving and theft are amongst the most common offenses in Canada.

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